To fill the spare time on his recently-completed three-month national tour, Harry Hill bought the script of Pulp Fiction and set about acting it out and filming it with a camcorder. "I was Bruce Willis," he recalls. "The road manager and the sound man were in it as well - there were some painful moments. It is virtually unwatchable."

Maybe, but the idea is still wonderfully daft, and that's the root of Hill's appeal. As the man himself says of his comedy: "What I like about it is that it's harmless and silly." He takes a ludicrous, surreal concept, like a badger parade or a ventriloquist's dummy cat called Stouffer, and just runs with it. Now people come up to him in the street and ask "How are the badgers?" or "Where's Stouffer?"

Much of the attraction for audiences lies in the repetition of phrases such as "What are the chances of that happening?" Hill reckons that the secret to catchphrases is that familiarity breeds content. "I was watching a Laurel and Hardy video recently. When they do their catchphrases - waggling the tie or scratching the head - you immediately like it. Some jokes are so inevitable; everyone can see the answer coming and the pleasure comes from hearing it confirmed. A lot of The Fast Show is like that."

Hill credits his Channel 4 series with finally launching him into the sort of league where he can book the London Palladium for two shows in one night. "Television is just like a big advert. You can tour around for ages if you're not very well-known, but a shortcut around that is television. The problem is that it's a fool's shortcut because you've already done all your best stuff on TV."

For all his popularity, the word "culty" has frequently been applied to Hill's act, and some people still don't get it. "The other day, we had someone call round at the house offering to clean the windows. When he saw who I was, he said, 'I don't like your stuff, it's all a bit too complicated for me.' I thought, 'Thanks very much. You clean the windows, and I'll tell you I don't like the way you're doing it very much.' But it's all subjective. Most acts have their critics - except for Tommy Cooper. Everyone liked him."

Harry Hill is at the London Palladium, W1 (0171-494 5055) 5.30pm and 8pm, tomorrow

EXTRA

Gayle Tuesday, the spoof Page 3 stunna created by Brenda Gilhooly, may be a one-joke wonder, but, at least, she pulls it off with panache. On her national tour, she informs us that she has just starred in a play about the life of Emily Bronte called I Couldn't Get a Boyfriend, So I Wrote A Book Instead. But, Gayle insists, "as an actress, I've got my integrity. If the part required it, I would consider keeping my clothes on."

Gayle Tuesday is at Hayes Beck Theatre (0181-561 8371) tonight

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